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Author Topic:   Owner's Manual; What you can learn from it.
jimh posted 07-20-2003 10:43 AM ET (US)   Profile for jimh   Send Email to jimh  
Here is a brief summary of the information that is available in my outboard motor owner's manual, a little 80-page small booklet format that comes with my engine (not the shop or repair manual), begining from the cover and progressing through the manual:

1. The exact model name/number of my outboard motor.

2. The serial number of my outboard motor (because I wrote it down in the space provided).

3. The replacement key number (because I wrote it down in the space provided).

4. The part number for ordering another manual.

5. The warranty information.

6. The name of all the major components of the motor and their location shown in callouts of a graphical representation of the motor.

7. How the oiling systems works, including an explanation of the warning systems which creates visual and audible alarms, and also a complete schematic diagram of all the interconnections of the wiring associated with the oil injection system, identifying all conductors by color, etc.

8. How the engine overheat warning system works, a description of the alarms, how the speed of the engine will automatically be reduced in the event of overheating, how to check for a clogged water inlet, how to check for a clogged pilot tube output.

9. How to operate the remote controls.

10. How to remove the engine cowling.

11. How to operate the tilt support lever (lock).

12. How to adjust the trim tab position.

13. How to locate the serial number of the engine. How to locate the serial number of the engine block.

14. How to install and mount the engine, including templates for drilling mounting holes in the transom, with complete dimensions.

15. How to adjust the trim angle.

16. How to connect the battery.

17. How to mount the remote controls, how to connect the engine to the controls, how to connect the main cable to the engine, how to adjust controls and all proper measurements associated with the control cables, etc.

18. How to install the steering link arm.

19. How to install the gauges.

20. How to select and install a propeller.

21. How to add fuel and oil to the appropriate tanks.

22. How to break in the engine.

23. How to operate the engine, including procedures for bleeding the oil injection system, and for restarting after extended storage.

24. How to start the engine.

25. How to shift gears.

26. How to shut off the engine.

27. How to operate the tilt and trim, including cautions to remove fuel line when the engine is tilted up for extended periods. Also, how to operate the tilt in the event of a battery failure.

28. How to start the engine if the electric starter fails.

29. How to store the engine, including details on fuel stablization, cooling system flushing, and engine fogging.

30. When and what periodic routine checks and inspections need to be performed and the recommended intervals for them.

31. How to change spark plugs, what brand to use, what gap, how much torque.

32. How to change the lower unit oil.

33. How to inspect the fuel system, including how to remove the fuel filter.

34. How to adjust the engine for proper idle.

35. How to inspect and replace galvanic sacrificial anodes.

36. How to maintain the battery.

37. How to care for the engine if submerged.

38. A trouble shooting matrix that offers suggested remedies for common operational problems. (NOTE: if I had consulted this on the occassion of having a particular starting problem I would have been quickly led to the source of the problem.)

38. Schematic diagrams showing all hoses associated with the oil injection and fuel systems.

39. Detailed electrical schematic diagrams showing all wires, connections, labels for all components, wire color codes, etc., for both the engine, the remote control box, and the instruments.

40. Complete dimensions of the engine, its weight, recommended operating speeds, all dimensions of cylinders, bore stroke, etc., lower unit gear ratio, tank capacities, recommended oils and lubricants.


I think this is an amazing amount of information. If you do not have the manual for you outboard motor, you can order one in most cases for just a minor one time cost, perhaps $25. You can also carry this booklet on board with you and have it available for reference any time there is sufficient light to read by.

Or, you can seek this information by purchasing a computer and an internet connection, locating a forum, and posting questions. You can then accept the unverified responses of unknown third parties and write them down on scraps of paper or the back of envelopes you recently received in the mail. You can collect all this information and make it handy to refer to, say by placing it in an old interoffice mail envelope. Or you can purchase a printer and print out all the responses you get to questions to provide the information available above. You can assemble all the responses into a binder and carry it with you.

Personally, I'd go for the first option--buy a copy of the original owner's manual. You'll get a great deal of information in a very handy format for not much cost.

andygere posted 07-20-2003 01:35 PM ET (US)     Profile for andygere  Send Email to andygere     
They are pretty handy, and I have a copy for all 4 of my outboards. I keep them in a waterproof map pouch on my boat.

Unfortunately, there seems to be a trend with newer motors to include less technical information and more liability protection language (e.g. how to not hurt yourself with our product and then sue us). Recently, I was troubleshooting an ignition switch problem on my dad's 1999 Mercury 90 hp (on his Dauntless 16) and found the manual included very little detailed information, and none that helped me solve the problem. This is in sharp constrast to what is in my 1989 Mercury owner's manuals and my 1979-80 Johnson owner's manuals. These contained all the information in your list.

An interesting aside is to compare the marine electronics industry to the outboard industry in terms of manuals. I was able to download and print the owner's manual for the 8-year old VHF radio and the 7-year old GPS that came with my Outrage. Just for fun I went to the Mercury website, and after 15 minutes of looking, I could not find any way to download an owner's manual, or order one for a fee. With all the liability fear evidenced by the content of the newer manuals, you'd think the outboard manufacturers would want everyone who has one of their motors to have a free copy.

JoeH posted 07-20-2003 04:01 PM ET (US)     Profile for JoeH  Send Email to JoeH     
When I bought my Outrage I was lucky enough to get the owners manual for the 150 and 9.9 and the boat itself. I copied what I thought would be most important on the water in a pinch, warning horns, kill switch, troubleshooting etc. Then I laminated the pages and put them together with small wire ties and leave it in the boat. I hope to keep the originals high and dry and in good shape for referance. Also, I do print many pages from the forum and keep them in a binder but that stays at the computer. Joe
Jarhead posted 07-20-2003 05:51 PM ET (US)     Profile for Jarhead  Send Email to Jarhead     
Boy I'm glad it was a "brief" summary :)

jimh posted 07-20-2003 06:14 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
The excerpts mentioned above are from a 1987 manual. I should have mentioned that. I don't know what data is in the current model year mmanuals, but I suspect there may be a trend to more "boiler plate".

"Boiler plate" is a term to describe content that can (to extend the metaphor) be unbolted from one manual and dropped into place in another. In other words, the contents of the manual becomes mainly generic information, not information specific to your particular model.

andygere posted 07-21-2003 02:19 AM ET (US)     Profile for andygere  Send Email to andygere     
The biggest deficiency in the newer manuals I have seen is the use of the words "see your dealer" where they used to provide useful tips for troubleshooting and diagnosing minor problems. The example I used above is for a carbed 90 hp 2-stroke, essentially the same basic technology as my '89s.
newt posted 07-21-2003 09:28 AM ET (US)     Profile for newt  Send Email to newt     
The manual for my 2003 motor includes very little service or repair information. No wiring diagrams, no schematics, no adjustment procedures, no troubleshooting guide, no mounting instructions, etc. There are however, many references to "a qualified service representative". Basically the manual offers instruction on operating the motor and that's it.

Maybe the '87 manuals are better because there were no internet forums at the time!

hauptjm posted 07-21-2003 12:04 PM ET (US)     Profile for hauptjm    
Having bought my boat used, I never got the manual for the engine. I did, however, go to e-bay and purchase a complete repair manual for approximately $15.00. Best dollars spent on my vessel to date.

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